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Jono Beech: ‘I’m enjoying being back at West Adelaide’

Jono Beech is one of the most resilient players in Australian Rules football. After he was overlooked eight times in the AFL draft, he was finally given a chance by the Adelaide Crows at 27-years-old. Now back at West Adelaide, he went One on One with Jack Hudson.

PHOTO: afc.com.au

Jack Hudson: Let’s go back to the start of your junior days. Where did you play your junior footy?

JB: I grew up in the Riverland and played for Barmera-Monash.

I played all my juniors there, under 13s and under 15s, and then when I hit under 18s, I started travelling down to Adelaide playing under 17s.

I used to come up a couple of times a week and train.

It would take about two and a half hours – training sessions during the week and then the game on the weekend.

JH: What was it like moving to West Adelaide?

JB: That was awesome, they asked me to move down while I was finishing school with year 12.

I was lucky enough that my sister was moving down at the same time, so we lived together, which was a good transition.

JH: What was it like walking into the Bloods…were you intimidated at first?

JB: When I first come down I was in the under 19s, and then I got asked to play in the league.

Once I got asked to play in the league side, there was a lot of experienced footballers in that side.

I learned a lot of things off them.

JH: Do you remember your debut for Westies?

JB: It was against Centrals, and they were flying at the time.

They beat us by a fair bit, but it was a great experience to get a game at that age, I think I must have been about 17.

JH: Who were some of the players you faced in that game?

JB: The Gowans brothers were out there, Paul Thomas and a few other experienced players.

I was a bit small, but the year after that I started to put on some weight as well.

JH: You had eight bites at the AFL draft. What was that like?

JB: The first few years it was exciting to be in the draft, I was hopeful I’d get picked up.

As the years went on, I’d just play the best footy possible in the SANFL, and if it happens, it happens.

It was still my goal, but I just wanted to play consistent footy at Westies, eventually it did happen.

After a few when I didn’t, I just found out what they wanted me to work on, and tried to improve on that each year, and then I finally proved to them.

JH: You played in a flag with Westies. What do you remember about grand final day?

JB: It was awesome.

Late in the finals, the feel around the club was great and we had a really good group.

In that last quarter, once we realised we won it…after being on the bottom for most of my career there, it was awesome to win and with your mates.

PHOTO: afc.com.au

JH: You were picked up in the rookie draft not too long after. What happened there?

JB: The year before I had trained with the (Adelaide) Crows in the pre-season and they didn’t pick me up.

I went back to Westies and then we won the flag, so it was good I didn’t miss out on the premiership.

We won that, and then the Crows and a couple of other clubs were interested in me.

A lot of people weren’t expecting me to get picked up after I missed out the year before.

Playing finals footy probably got me over the line.

JH: Along with that, you were in the Crows reserves for some of that. What was it like playing against your mates at Westies?

JB: It was a bit weird playing the first game against them.

I enjoyed it as well, there was a bit of friendly banter too.

It was a bit weird, because the first game of that year was against Westies and the last game I played with them was the premiership.

JH: Did you put extra pressure on yourself when you were in the Crows reserves side compared to Westies?

JB: I just learned from the experienced players at the club and played my best footy.

I didn’t put heaps of pressure on myself, I just gave 100 percent to everything I did, and did my time there, and learned a lot from the senior players.

I enjoyed my time there.

JH: You made your AFL debut and kicked your first goal against the Saints. How did that feel?

JB: It was good to finally get there after a few ups and downs.

I had a few injuries when I started at the Crows, so I missed the NAB Cup games.

To finally play a game was awesome, the build up was awesome and to finally play on Adelaide Oval in front of all those fans.

Kicking that goal was one of the most memorable moments of my career, along with the West Adelaide premiership.

JH: Now you’ve returned to West Adelaide, what has it been like in your second tenure there?

JB: When I first came back there was a lot of new faces as a few people had moved on.

I still have some close mates there, and I’m really enjoying it.

I’m trying to help the younger players improve, and I’m looking forward to having a really good year there.

JH: What’s next for you – even further in life after footy?

JB: At the moment I’m just focusing on having a good year this year, mainly playing up forward.

I did think about what I’d do after footy, I wouldn’t mind doing a bit of coaching.

Not sure what level, I’ve done a bit of coaching with the juniors and the women’s team.

I’m doing a bit of landscaping at the moment, so possibly run my own business as well.

JH: Have you ever thought about returning to the Riverland to play some senior footy?

JB: Maybe, it’s not something I have thought about too much.

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Jack grew up in Gawler, South Australia – just 45 minutes north of Adelaide – and has a passion for all things football and soccer. Jack has worked in the media for more than four years, and hosts his own sports show on Barossa radio station BBBfm. He previously played football for Elizabeth, South Gawler, Gawler Central and at junior level with Central District, and is a die-hard Port Adelaide fan.